1Password for Android, hands-on with the cross-platform champ

June 11, 2014
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Free (for now), 1Password for Android is a revamped, rethought password manager for all your devices. From tablet to phone, 1Password for Android has come a long way from earlier incarnations. The question is whether or not it’s worth buying in August once the free trial runs out.


The handiest thing about 1Password is that it’s cross platform — truly. Mac, Windows, and iOS are all supported in addition to your Android device. Going from desktop to mobile is easy and efficient, keeping all your passwords right in front of you. The app uses a secure log-in procedure, and uses 256-bit encryption to generate passwords.

We won’t second-guess the 1Password security methodology; they’re about as good as it gets there. In that respect, you know your passwords are safe, and those generated are as strong or stronger than any other app/service around. The app also has a secure browser you can use if you like, but it doesn’t have many bells and whistles. It’s really there to let you log-in via a streamlined approach, not be a Chrome competitor.

1Pass 2 AC

In the instance you forget your password, 1Password is fantastic. You can organize yours into groups, and organizing them is just as you’d expect; just tuck passwords into the folders you like, if you like. Finding your passwords is simple and effective, but that’s where the fun stops in some instances.

The app doesn’t work with Chrome’s mobile browser, so finding a password while browsing there isn’t a desktop experience. The app also doesn’t work with other apps. That’s to be expected from a security standpoint (allowing another app to gain access to 1Password is a potential nightmare), but doesn’t lend itself to ease of use.

On the desktop (we use OS X for this example), a small icon can sit in the top bar. It’s a mini version of the app, and will monitor browsers and ask if you want to keep passwords you’ve entered it doesn’t yet have. We’d have liked a similar functionality on mobile, but that makes for an always-on scenario that would drain battery and — here we go again — reduce security clearance.

1Pass 3 AC

Conclusion

If you’re cross-platform, 1Password is brilliant. It syncs to the cloud via Dropbox, so migrating saved passwords is easy and effective. So long as you make sure it syncs regularly, you’ll have all your passwords with you, all the time, as secure as possible. If you’re more into keeping things contained, you can also use a built-in file manager to keep all passwords on your device. In a pleasant twist, our app seems to also block screenshots, making it even more secure.

If you’re mobile centric, 1Password becomes a bit more troublesome. It won’t offer to save passwords like the desktop version, and doesn’t peek into Chrome or apps to find already saved ones. That’s secure, we get it, but it’s also starting from scratch. If you already have something you’re comfortable with to keep passwords secure, 1Password may not be for you.


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